WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump's eldest son told Senate investigators that he met with a Russian lawyer in 2016 because he wanted to determine if she had damaging information about his father’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, U.S. media are reporting.
Donald Trump Jr. on September 7 told investigators that nothing came of the meeting at Trump Tower, and he stressed he had nothing to do with any Russian government efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
The New York Times cited prepared statements Trump Jr. delivered to Senate Judiciary Committee investigators during a closed session. The New York Times said it had seen a copy of Trump Jr.’s statement, as did other news organizations.
Trump Jr. said he initially was unsure of what to do when he learned the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, could have information damaging to Clinton’s campaign.
He said that although he was interested in what the lawyer might have, he intended to consult with his own lawyers about the appropriateness of using any information Veselnitskaya might provide.
Media reports in July that Donald Trump Jr.; President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and then-campaign Chairman Paul Manafort had met on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower in New York raised questions about potential coordination between Kremlin-linked persons and the Trump campaign.
The president’s son gave varying accounts of the meeting before eventually acknowledging that he had received an e-mail suggesting the Russian lawyer had damaging information about Clinton.
“To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character, or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out,” he said in his prepared statement.
“Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration.”
Trump Jr. met with Senate investigators for about five hours, answering questions after giving his prepared statement.
After the session, he posted a Twitter note saying: "I met with the Senate Judiciary Committee today. I am thankful for their professionalism and courtesy."
He added that he answered "every question posed by the Committee...I trust this interview fully satisfied their inquiry.
Trump Jr. is also expected to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee at some point.